Coconut Milk + Black-Eyed Peas

Hello all!  Okay so here is my take, mainly based on the African-American foodways of that time.

In honor of the the Fourth of July I wanted to share recipes I like – using a staple of African-American food experience, black-eye peas, greens and other ingredients.  In fact, according to Herbert C. Covey who wrote a book called “What Slaves Ate:  recollections of African American Foods and Foodways from Slave Narratives” slave even ate black-eyed peas on the slave ships from Africa to the Americas, along with peanuts, yams among others.

Not surprising the Fourth of July has historically been a somewhat controversial holiday for African-Americans.  Many thought “Should we celebrate the freedom of America, when we do not have our own.”  In fact in 1830 when many states in the South were not ending slavery African-Americans in New York and other Northern states began celebrating July 5th, as a protest to the continued bondage of African-Americans in this country.

But the early history of African-Americans though linked to slavery, is not exclusive to this fact not even at the time of revolution.  Crispus Attucks, is considered to be the first casualty of the American Revolution, killed in the “Boston Massacre,” March 5, 1770.

Depiction of Crispus Attucks

Given that slavery in the Americas extended down to the Caribbean and South America, I wanted to pick a recipe that offered the flavor of the entire Americas.  So enjoy and celebrate the freedom of America and the eventual freedom of the Black men and women who did so much to build this country.

Coconut Milk + Black-Eyed Peas

An updated recipe by Diana Rattray, Guide


1 cup dried black-eyed peas (or canned, you will cook it less)
1/2 to 1 cup diced ham (substitute for other meat, smoked turkey is good, or none at all)
2-5 cloves garlic, minced (depending on how much you like garlic)
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 red pepper flakes
1/4 chili powder
1 habanero pepper, or less, seeds and stem removed, very finely minced (use rubber gloves)
1 can coconut milk, unsweetened (14 to 16 oz)
1/4 cup water or broth
3 cups hot cooked rice

Soak black-eyed peas overnight, if dry; drain. Combine peas with ham, garlic, onion, thyme, pepper, minced habanero, coconut milk, and water in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 8 to 12 hours. Before serving, mix in rice (You can make the rice the night before and refrigerate; add to peas about 30 minutes before serving, turn to high, and heat through). Serves 4 to 6.

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